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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  December 14, 2017 11:00pm-12:00am PST

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♪ i was blind but now i see >> our thoughts and our prayers are with amazing grace mcdonald and all the others who lost their lives at sandy hook and their families tonight. thanks for watching time to hand things over to don lemon, "cnn tonight" starts now. this is cnn tonight, i'm don lemon. thanks for joining us. another day, another departure from the trump white house. and this one shines a light on what could be a big problem for team trump with a key voting bloc. after all, as we learned in alabama this week, no candidate can afford to take black voters, especially women, for granted. so the departure of omarosa, one of the very few
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african-americans in the trump administration, it matters. it bears repeating, a stunning 98% of black women who voted in alabama's senate election cast their ballots for doug jones, giving a democrat the victory in a state that has been redder than red for years. so the trump white house cannot afford to have this be their message to african-americans. >> what the hell do you have to lose? >> sources tell cnn omarosa's departure was a long time coming. yes, there have been questions all along about how much she was doing for the voters she was supposed to represent. but the fact remains the trump administration, one of the least diverse in years, is less diverse tonight. what message does that send to voters? we'll discuss all of that, let's bring in now cnn's politics editor at large chris cillizza and political analyst april ryan. good evening to both of you. >> hey, don. >> it's a very interesting story. and there are lots of legs to
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it. lots of tentacles and nuance here. right? it's not just the departure of a staff member that's controversial. chris, the president's approval rating among black voters according to the latest pew poll is down 7%. it wasn't high to begin with. but are all these indications that president trump and republicans are going to have a big problem on their hands come 2018? because black voters and young voters may be mobilized against them. >> don, you mentioned the 98-2 vote among black women for doug jones in alabama. a couple more numbers out of the exit poll. 96-4 of all african-americans for jones over more. and a more interesting question is that african-americans made up 29% of the electorate on tuesday in alabama. why is that number important? it was 28% for barack obama's re-election in alabama in 2012. the chance to re-elect the first
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african-american president ever. what does that tell us? it tells us that african-americans are very fired up, enthusiastic, and keen on turning out to send a message to donald trump and to the republican party. and african-americans are a huge pillar of the democratic base. you get a fired up democratic base and a less than fired up republican base, you get alabama. >> april, republicans lost the senate seat in alabama in large part because of black people, especially women, going to the polls in big numbers. with omarosa leaving the white house, they have lost their liaison with the community. whether she was effective or not, we can discuss that. but sarah sanders was asked about her departure today. >> with omarosa leaving how many senior staffers here at the white house are african-american? >> look, we have a really diverse team across the board at the white house. we always want to continue to grow the diversity here. we're going to continue to do that. >> can you tell me -- >> i don't have a number
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directly in front of me, specifically. not african-american. but i can say again, we have a very diverse team at the white house. certainly a very diverse team in the press office. and something that we strive for every day is to add and grow to be more diverse and more representative of the country at large. >> april, you're at the white house every day. omarosa was the only african-american earning a top white house salary, in her position, in that type of position. talk to me about the diversity there. >> well, let me give you a little bit of history first. the george w. bush republican administration had the most diverse republican administration racially. this administration does not compare at all. and when you have people at the table, their voices ring true. i think about condi rice back in the day, during the george w. bush years, when there was the issue of the university of michigan and the amicus brief,
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with the issue of admissions and the preferential admissions that they were dealing with at that time that the president wrote the amicus brief for. when you have people in the administration, they bring the issues of a culture to the table. i mean there have been a lot of issues on the table. taking the knee. the misunderstanding, if you will, of the administration as to why colin kaepernick was taking the knee. it was over police-involved shootings. instead, if you had that voice at the table, maybe it would have changed the dynamic of saying it's about the flag and about soldiers. also, you know, charlottesville. if you had those voices at the table, and maybe they are, but they weren't maybe loud enough, you know, there could have been more sensitivity. it makes a difference. when you have people of all cultures, to include maybe native americans. listen, we just heard what happened with the navajo code talkers with the president
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having the backdrop of andrew jackson and talking about pocahontas. there is more of a sensitivity and hope for understanding when you have people of different backgrounds at the table. >> chris, i want you to take a look at president trump's current cabinet. the only black member of his cabinet is secretary ben carson. elaine chao is asian. there's a total of three women in the cabinet. with the addition of kirstjen nelson as homeland security. labor secretary alex acosta is hispanic. the president has been criticized to having a white and male heavy cabinet. compared with previous administrations. is that deserved when you look at previous administrations? >> look, donald trump had a very clear focus in cabinet picks, one was wealthy business people he knew, steve mnuchin, wilbur ross, and the other was military folks. obviously now one, john kelly is his chief of staff, but obviously jim mattis, h.r.
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mcmaster now in a senior position though not a cabinet-level position. i think everything else was just sort of there. i don't think -- i think april makes an important point. it's sort of the voices that are in a room when decisions are being made. i think donald trump diversity is not something that he is terribly focused on. in a way that barack obama was, in a way that george w. bush was. in a way that bill clinton was. i mean, it's just -- it's not a top-tier priority when he's picking who does what. one quick thing on sarah sanders when she says i don't have a number in terms of the number of african-americans who work in the west wing. the reason she doesn't have a number is not because it is impossible to calculate. it is because they don't want to share that number because we know certainly as you mentioned, don, at that top pay level it's only omarosa. so let's cut through why she didn't answer that question.
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>> let aus talk about omarosa. more now. speaking about her departure, she's not going away quietly. take a look. >> i resigned, and i didn't do that in the residence as being reported. john kelly and i sat down in the situation room. which is a very secure, very quiet room in the white house. and we had a very candid conversation. and i wanted to make the one year mark, that was one of the goals i set out to. and then get back to my life. >> i think people were surprised she had access to the situation room. did you notice the emphasis on situation room, april? she says that she resigned. she says there was no drama. what are you hearing? >> well, let's go back to the briefing, don. that question about her exit tuesday night was asked of sarah huckabee sanders. sarah said she did not want to get into the weeds of what happened.
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she would not deny the allegations or accusations that omarosa was vulgar, cursing and tried to get into the white house. i continue to hear that. and it's been reported over and over again by other news organizations. and we broke it here first. but the bottom line is, she did not make the year. the exit is not pretty, and there's still -- i mean, this is not over yet. she's gone on television, basically threatening the white house. we're going to watch and see how this unfolds. >> let me play that, since you talked about it. let me play that since you talked about the threatening of the white house. watch this. >> but when i have a chance to tell my story, michael, quite a story to tell. as the only african-american woman in this white house as a senior staff and assistant to the president, i have seen
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things that made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people. and when i can tell my story, it is a profound story that i know the world will want to hear. >> it sounded like a threat. i don't know if you read it that way, chris. >> i mean, yes. >> it's a reality show tease if i've ever seen one. she's taking one right out of the trump playbook. >> i was just going to say, it is the cliffhanger of a reality tv star -- >> this is "the apprentice" playing out -- >> yes. >> -- and donlald trump, president trump is the only one to blame because he hired her. >> that's the thing, the reason that omarosa is in the white house is donald trump likes her, he's always liked her, he thought she should have a place there. donald trump had to know, given he met omarosa through a reality tv show, that she wasn't likely to just say hey, thanks for that great job, i'm going to head out
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into the private sector, you probably won't hear from me again. it's not who she is. it's not who she's ever been. i do think it is remarkable, and april mentioned this. this is someone that according to sarah sanders will continue to be paid through january 20th, but on december 14th is saying just wait until i can tell my story. which is remarkable. >> we have a lot more to talk about -- >> taxpayer dollars. >> stand by, april. we have a lot more to talk about. when we come back, where do issues with the white house's lack of diversity really lie? the president said he'd choose the best people. who could he choose next? at t-mobile, when you holiday together, great things come in twos. like t-mobile and netflix. right now when you get an unlimited family plan, netflix is included. ho ho ho! t-mobile covers your netflix subscription... best christmas gift ever! ...so you can binge watch all year long. now you're thinking christmas! and now when you buy any of this season's hot new samsung galaxy phones,
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omarosa says a lack of diversity in the white house made her job very challenging. >> it has been very, very challenging being the only african-american woman in the senior staff. >> but there are a lot of
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questions about whether she really accomplished anything in the job that she is now leaving. here to discuss cnn political commentator paris denard, who was director of black outreach for president george w. bush. political commentator sir michael singleton. and asia conyers, who's a former deputy director of african-american engagement at the rnc. it's great to have all of you on. three black conservatives. listen. i've got to ask you, asia, did the -- i'm hearing from sources that the white house reached out to black conservatives today saying it was okay to talk about omarosa, criticize her, and they would give cover. is that true? >> yeah, they told us to take the gloves off, they wanted us to share our experience, my experience, when i was at the rnc and when other black conservatives that were establishment folks were trying to engage her and do black outreach, we were blocked, we were shut out. so now that she went on and was talking about what her experience was in the white
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house and how uncomfortable she was, we got the okay to go ahead and express our stories. >> paris, why didn't people do that earlier? why do it now? >> so look, the black republicans, we had a chance to work with her and went out of our way to work with her. we just realized it was too much of a distraction, she didn't want us there. so we just decided not to waste our time. we decided to turn our focus to congress. you know, we worked with mark walker and senator scott on the hbcu initiative. we turned away from the white house with the hope that one day we'd be able to break in and help the white house direct their message to our community. >> okay. so paris, this is for you. and you heard the question. weren't you at the white house all week? or today? >> yeah. the christmas party. i'm there quite a bit, yeah. >> so then why not speak out before i ask you the same question, why come out now against omarosa, after she's gone if she wasn't effectively doing her job? why not speak up earlier? >> well, i'm not here to trash
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omarosa, i am here to set the record straight as it relates to the diversity issues that are there. i think ayshia brought up a good point. there are a lot of republicans that happen to be african-american out there saying they were blocked by omarosa specifically, and not allowed to have a seat at the table. now, i did not have that experience. i know there were many that did not have that experience. but just because that wasn't my experience does not mean that's not the experience of a lot of people that did not have the seat. but i will say that as it relates to why people are coming out now i think it looks to what she said at that interview on "good morning america." it was a veiled threat or an overt threat to the president, to her former colleagues, her current colleagues if you believe that she was resigned or fired, her current colleagues. and it was sort of an interesting statement that surprised many of us who spoke to omarosa privately and publicly that she was somehow upset or not comfortable with
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things that were said at the white house by the president or her colleagues. i think many people are coming out now because they say enough is enough and they see it as an opportunity. a lot of us see it as an opportunity for the progress, for moving forward, to making sure we can unify around those who want to unify around this president to get the job done to make america great again for the african-american community because we believe that the president has the potential and the opportunity and the policies to do just that. >> okay. so you said you didn't want to come on and trash omarosa. i'm wondering any of you -- michael, you can handle it. do you think you are doing the bidding or the dirty work for the white house by trashing -- them saying okay, black republicans, take the gloves off? i mean, why didn't they call white republicans to do that? >> i'm not -- >> do you hear what i'm saying? >> right, i'm not going to get on this network, schucking and jiving and attacking this black woman because she's down. i know people have their issues with omarosa and that's their
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perspective but that's not what i'm going to do. let's not be stuck on stupid here, don. you mean to tell me no one on the transition team said why aren't we seeing more black faces? maybe we should look into this. you're telling me omarosa had that much power she could block every black republican from getting an appointment? that sounds like a load of crap to me and i'm not buying it. >> it just wasn't worth anybody putting their efforts in to try to do it. >> i'm not saying as it pertains to african-american republicans. i'm saying the individuals on the transition team, those individuals selecting candidates to be part of the administration, you're telling me not a single person as part of the transition said why are we not seeking more african-american people, we should look into this, we need to make sure -- you're telling me omarosa as was able to block them all together? one person? give me a break. >> it sort of bothers me when i started getting calls from people saying, black republicans have been told to take the gloves off when it comes to
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omarosa because the president is the one who put omarosa there in the first place. so why is he using black republicans to go after omarosa? can he go after omarosa? can't he say what was wrong? can't an administration official come out and say instead of using black republicans to do that? you disagree with that? >> what i can say is i know for a fact that a high-volume meeting is going to take place on monday at the white house with some credible black republicans to discuss tax reform and the urban agenda. so even just days after she's gone you've already got j.c. watts, michael steele, some incredible names we all know, that are going to be able to move the ball forward. that's all i wanted to make sure i point out. >> did anyone say to the president or to someone senior in the administration, that this person is hurting our efforts to reach out to the black community? has someone said that to them? >> don, they knew it. >> did they just not care if they knew it? did they just not care? >> it's not that they just
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did not care. it was the fact that this woman was an assistant to the president, had the ear of the president, and they trusted her opinion. because listen, you should trust the people on your team. you should believe that they're giving you wise counsel. you should believe that they're telling you this person is not qualified, you that don't take them, that they're telling you the god's truth. >> so paris, how do we explain the insensitive comments the president made when you've got the highest-level black republican there, quote unquote republican there, and you don't think she was able to scream and tell him this might be insensitive? he's not from our community. can you imagine if a credible black republican was in the president's ear? we won see what we've been seeing. that's just the bottom line. >> paris, let me ask you this. you said she had his ear and he trusted her. he has said he doesn't trust information coming from the intelligence community. why would he trust information coming from omarosa? >> because he knows omarosa. he has a 14-year relationship with omarosa and he hired her.
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>> don, don, don -- >> hold on, let me just finish my point. >> let had him finish. >> just quickly. at the end of the day when you serve at the white house, most people serve for 18 months. i had the privilege of serving for four years under george w. bush. what happens is when the pleasure of the president leaves you leave. so while she might have reported to general kelly, remember, donald rumsfeld offered his letter of resignation to president bush several times and each time president bush said no. if president trump wanted to keep omarosa around he would have said omarosa, i appreciate you, i need you, you need to stay and she would have stayed. >> you should know better. >> go ahead, ayshia. >> i just wanted to say you should know better, paris. >> i should know better for what? >> she had no political experience. she's never worked in any capacity. no relationships on either side
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of the aisle. republicans didn't know her. and democrats didn't like her. so how is that going to -- how are we going to use that to message the community when she's not even credible or well liked by the black community? >> shermichael, stand by. stand by, everyone, because we're going to come back. i'm going to keep you guys and hold you over the break. when we come back, could energized black voters, women and young people, the biggest threat to the trump presidency in the coming mid-terms, could they be? we'll talk about that coming up. it's date night and... ugh... nothing fits. you're just bloated from gas. i can see it and i know you feel it. take gas-x®, the #1 gas relief brand. it relieves pressure and bloating fast! so you can wear whatever you want. it feels good to be back. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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we're back and talking about the departure of omarosa. it also bears repeating that black voters, women and young voters made the difference in alabama's shocking senate election. how much of a threat does that pose for the president in next year's midterms? paris denard, shermichael singleton, and ayshia connors are back with me now. shermichael, you wanted to respond to paris before the break. >> i mean, look, don, you raised the point about the white house sort of giving permission, if you will, to black republicans to attack omarosa.
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and here's my point. how naive are the people at the white house? do they think that people are truly going to believe that they had no idea whatsoever that some black republicans were being blocked? i know earlier today the press secretary said we have diversity, we believe in diversity. we want to reflect america. if that's the case, where in the hell are the black people? seriously. outside of the groundskeeper, the maids, there are none. >> there are some general -- >> don't give me that. the people in the white house. not the surgeon general, not dr. carson, not the fellows you mentioned earlier, people were -- >> we're talking about staffers. >> i'll give you. >> whoa! shermichael, calm down. maybe you're bitter because you were fired. but we'll keep going. >> do you really want to go there tonight, paris? at least i have respect for my community. i'd rather have respect than be a sell skrout. b sellout. >> watch your mouth,
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shermichael. >> don't tell me to watch my mouth. >> you have people in alleged affairs. the second lady's office, the white house fellow's office, you have them in black fellows committed to hbcu. working there in the white house. so the idea that black staffers are not there at the white house and especially in domestic policy, it's just not true. >> but who's there in a senior role that can talk directly to the president? >> come on, paris. >> he said he's the only one who matters. listen, i know there's name calling. i don't like that. i respect you, shermichael but i don't like that. paris and i have had knock down dragout fights on tv, there's no name calling. >> fair enough, don. fair enough. >> listen, this is what i want to say. to your point, though. all right? a different way of saying it, i just got this from someone who i respect a lot who's african-american. he says so black republicans are mad because omarosa blocked them from helping the president pass policies that will hurt black people? hmm. now they want to be on the team
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of someone who backs roy moore, cuts health care for millions of people, especially blacks and lies about voter suppression and refuses to push restoration of the voting rights act and whose tax plan will have a devastating impact on the black community. that's strange to me." >> i disagree with that person's analysis of the tax plan, i just wrote an op ed about it, it will actually benefit the black community, especially small business -- >> but to the larger point? >> to the larger point there were african-americans who were republican who wanted to serve in the administration from the beginning and still do. i've gotten e-mails today and facebook messages today from people saying paris, i would love the opportunity to serve, i've been told that now we have the opportunity. can you get my resume to certain people? and i said yes, i will certainly do that. the idea that people -- >> can i chime in here? >> go ahead, ayshia. >> okay. so during the campaign there was a bipartisan effort with black democrats and black republicans with the joint center and with inside america, we collected hundreds, thousands of resumes
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of black republicans qualified. not just black republicans but we were prepared for any administration. we submitted names after the president was elected. and those names, we have information that omarosa trashed those and those people -- i mean, those people were never given an interview, they never got a call back, we're talking about hundreds of qualified subject matter experts. so how do we explain that? >> is that omarosa's fault or is that the president? as i said, the president has said -- >> we got information, that's a direct omarosa obstructing black republicans. >> but here's my thing, don. again i go back to look, i get people have issues with omarosa but i'm putting this back on the white house. you cannot tell me people at the white house are so naive that they did not realize that there were african-american republicans who had an interest in working for this administration. i mean, how stupid do they think people are? >> they're not. because they had two black people on the transition team on a senior level. >> then why didn't more black people get jobs, paris? or appointments. >> well, because you should ask the two black people who were on the transition team. >> i'm asking you since you brought it up. i want you to tell america. >> i'm telling america.
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>> so get to it. >> a lot of people believe that there was a process that was a backlog. so a lot of people who wanted jobs outside of black republicans, a lot of people who wanted to serve the administration, it's widely reported that the employment-filling process was slow and there are a lot of positions still to be filled. but some people believe that omarosa blocked them. >> that's got to be the last word, thank you all. i appreciate your candor and i appreciate -- listen, we're all people of color, and there's a diversity of opinion on this panel, and there are young black conservatives and so i'm glad that america is getting to see that. i don't think we get to see it often enough. thank you all. >> thanks, don. >> thanks, don. >> thank you, don. >> absolutely. when we come back, new developments in the russia investigation. republicans taking aim at the fbi and the mueller investigation. we have some new developments on that right after this break.
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that was just a'ight for me. yo, checi mean,t dawg. you got the walk. you got the stance.. but i wasn't really feeling it. you know what, i'm not buying this. you gotta come a little harder dawg. you gotta figure it out. eh, i don't know. shaky on the walk, carriage was off. randy jackson judging a dog show. i don't know dawg. surprising. what's not surprising?
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we have some new developments tonight in the russia investigation, more on text messages sent by fbi official peter strzok when he was still on robert mueller's team. i want to bring in now cnn justice reporter laura jarrett. laura, good evening to you. what are you learning about the role this fbi agent played in both robert mueller's investigation and the clinton e-mail investigation? >> well, don, i'm told two weeks ago, when news of these text messages first broke, peter strzok was not a household name, but within the fbi he's actually considered one of the bureau's top intelligence experts and he played a lead role in investigating hillary clinton's use of the private e-mail server. and then he's part of the group that decided not to recommend criminal charges for her. and then finally earlier this summer he helped oversee the beginnings of the probe into the contacts between russian operatives and trump campaign associates.
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so the fact he then later joins mueller's team for a brief period of time is being used to say the entire russia investigation has to be tainted because he trashed the president in his text messages. don? >> what about his role in the flynn investigation? what more do we know about that? >> yeah. so earlier this year, actually, my colleague evan perez reported that the fbi agents who interviewed flynn initially weren't in favor of pursuing charges against him for lying in his interview with the fbi back in january. but we're also now learning from sources that that same peter strzok, the same one who's part of this counterintelligence team investigating any links between the trump campaign and russia was actually among those voices who didn't view flynn's answers as purposely false at that time. now, obviously, flynn later pled guilty, so things changed. but the point is strzok's texts about trump show one thing about his personal opinions, but his actions on the job were clearly a bit more nuanced, don.
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>> valerie -- valerie. laura jarrett, thank you so much. i want to bring in cnn legal analyst michael zeldin. robert mueller's former special assistant at the justice department. good to have you on, michael. listen, at the center of this controversy surrounding the mueller investigation are text messages sent during the 2016 campaign between the fbi lawyer lisa page and the counterterrorism expert peter strzok. who was part of the mueller investigation earlier this year. this is one exchange between page and strzok. he says, "god, trump is a loathsome human." strzok, "yet he may win." in another message page expressed shock trump was to be the republican nominee saying "i cannot believe donald trump is likely to actually be a serious candidate for president." michael, how significant is this? >> it's a red herring in respect of the mueller investigation. it's really not relevant to the determinations that mueller has to make under his mandate with respect to whether there was collusion or obstruction of
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justice or other crimes that arise out of that investigation. strzok made these observations inappropriately in some respects because he was working for the fbi. and even though he has the right to do that, prudence would have said not to do that. but these were not investigative leads that he was pursuing and using his bias to impact the outcome of. these are personal political views expressed long before mueller was even a figment of anyone's imagination. so to try to bring the texts of this private citizen as he has a right to into the mueller investigation i think is just a red herring. >> so if you have expressed these kinds of opinions, does that mean you can't be unbiased in an investigation? i mean, congress people hold investigations all the time, and they also express their opinions all the time. >> exactly. that's what rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general,
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testified to. he said that people are under justice department policy allowed to have personal opinions. they have the same first amendment rights as do all of us. the issue is whether those opinions create bias which impacts the outcome of your inquiry. now, the inspector general of the justice department is looking into whether or not there was opinions which led to bias, which impacted outcome. until we know that, all this is really is the unfortunate expression of individual personal opinions about a candidate who was polarizing, there's no question, but people held positions like that, all throughout government as to the president and also as to secretary clinton. neither of these people were approached by their detractors with kindness. >> is there any evidence at this point that peter strzok or lisa page negatively impacted the independence of mueller's investigation? >> no. because all of these transactions, that is, the
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texting between them, redate it. mueller brings this guy strzok onto the investigation. and soon as he realizes that strzok has these texts he gets rid of him. so early in july when mueller is just starting his investigation and he learns of this he's dismissed. which i think is good for mueller. he saw the appearance of impropriety here and he dismissed this guy forthright. so i think it's a credit to mueller and a reflection of the independence that mueller wants to bring to this investigation so it would be free of the accusations that it's somehow biased against the president from the outset and just looking in an outcome-determined way for evidence to support that determination. >> michael zeldin, always appreciate it. thank you, sir. when we come back, why vladimir putin got a thank you call from president trump today. it's red lobster's
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new ultimate surf & turf event. and that means five mouthwatering pairings to choose from. like our new feast with lobster-wrapped scallops and a juicy steak. or a new lobster and seafood-topped filet. tempted? better hurry in, it ends soon.
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president trump speaking by phone today with russian president vladimir putin. that comes as the "washington post" is reporting that president trump nearly a full year into his term continues to deny evidence that russia meddled in the election and is working to roll back sanctions
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that president obama imposed on russia. let's discuss now. cnn national security analysts sean turner and steve hall, retired chief of cia russian operations. so good to have both of you on this evening. i want to start with you, steve. we found out tonight that president trump and the russian president spoke on the phone today. in a speech in russia, putin praised the performance of the u.s. stock market. president trump thanked him for the praise. putin knows exactly what he is doing here, doesn't he? >> yeah, he really does, don. you know, two things struck me about this conversation. the first is how much harmony there is between these two men. you have both using the same talking points, essentially saying, yeah, look how good the american economy is going. and then you had putin say a very interesting thing, which is look, all this other stuff going on about russia is simply spymania that needs to be disregarded and is being promulgated by enemies of trump inside the u.s. government.
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so what you have putin doing is essentially promulgating the deep state theory, which is nonsense, but he knows exactly what he's doing. and he's very effective at it, don. >> sean, this report that was in the "washington post" today raising concerns that the president is not treating russian meddling in the 2016 election seriously. he's not taking it seriously. and as a result his staff has sort of learned to treat russia with kid gloves around him. including at the daily briefing today. i want you to listen to this. it says current and former officials said his daily intelligence update known as the president's daily brief or pdb, is often structured to avoid upsetting him. i should say his daily briefing and not the daily briefing today. does that mean the president -- is he not getting the best intelligence because he's thin skinned? >> i think the important thing to know is it's not that he doesn't have access to that intelligence. you know, i think it's important
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to provide some clarity here. the people who put together the pd brief are absolutely doing what they need to do in terms of making sure that all of the relevant information is in the pdb brief. now, when you go in to deliver the pdb brief certainly there are decisions that go into what the pd brief will prioritize in terms of what they decide to talk about verbally versus what they decide to put in the book. i've certainly heard rumors that the briefers are making decisions that will allow the president to focus on the major national security issues that we need him to focus on, but at the same time, with regard to this russia issue, they understand this is a sensitive topic for the and so it's likely those are the kind of issues that are making it into the book but not necessarily being discussed with the president. >> so does that mean he's getting it? they're not sure he's reading it. if they want him to hear that, wouldn't they verbally tell that to him? >> yeah, you know, the idea here is that you put the most important information in the pdb
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brief. and so sometimes if you go in, if the president doesn't have a lot of time the expectation is that the president will take time to read that brief when he has time to do that. but it is concerning that there's this kind of understanding that this issue is so sensitive and that the president has not been concerned about it. >> have you ever heard of delivering a briefing to the president this way? >> you know really in my 30 years, i have not. and this is one of the concerning things i have read out of the excellent piece in the "the washington post." which i think today is must-read stuff for people who want to understand this. but the idea that the pdb briefers, and by the way these guys are like the navy seals of the cia analytics team. they have to understand the topics and then read what kind of person the president is. and there's no doubt that
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different presidents process the intelligence in different ways. some are more readers and some want to get the briefing and do things verbally. but the idea that a pdb briefer and go in and somehow not speak truth to power because the president might not be able to handle it, might take umbrage is ludicrous. it's really got to be grinding the teeth of some of these folks because that information is there. they want to get this information up front, but if they have to hold back because they feel the president can't handle it -- the president at the end of the day is really the ultimate consumer of this material. >> according to "the post" white house officials told them the white house has adopted a tougher stance, we're pushing back against the russians.
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do you agree with that, sean? >> look, i think it's to be determined. we have these sanctions passed by the congress. i also think we have to look at this president's rhetoric with regard to vladimir putin and russia in comparison to some of the other world leaders we're ingai engaged with national security issues. there was a line in the article talking about not wanting to irritate russia but encourage russia or in some other way get them to pay attention. that's really problematic when you consider that in comparison with the way the president's dealing with kim jong-un, the way he's called him rocket man. and even if you look at the way the president's dealt with china, if china want to do more with north korea, they could. so this idea that the president is -- is dealing with russia in the same way he's dealing with
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other world leaders just don't bode well. >> what about the idea that -- how concerning is that to you? and that again according to "the washington post," steve. >> it's concerning because i think it's part of the pattern of sort of this avoidance of the russia problem because we don't want to make vladimir putin, we don't want to irritate russia. and this is the great myth, because russia can be helpful to us. theoretically can russia be helpful to us? i think that's what the administration is trying to say. it's a little bit like an addict saying i would like drug dealer to help me deal with my problem. yeah, i guess they could help somehow. but the bottom line is on south korea, on many of these issues, russia's interest simply don't coincide with ours. syria is little bit different because russia got in when we
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weren't paying attention basically. on a lot of the other issues where the normal reaction is yeah, we've got to work with these guys, you really have to ask the question, really, do we? is it in the best interest of the u.s.? >> steve, shawn, thank you very much. we'll be right back. so i've asked chase sapphire reserve cardmembers to find my next vacation. chile, what's going on? i'm at the el tatio geysers. geezer. geyser. geezer. geyser. enough. geezer. whoaa, wooooo. dude, be careful. i think you should come camping. why would i camp in the atacama desert? oh... 3x points on travel and restaurants on every continent. sapphire reserve, from chase. make more of what's yours. (vo) take home something in for $999 or more,ds box and you also take home an xbox one s, with a terrific bundle! now, that's thinking outside the box!
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for many this time of year is about giving back, but the 11th annual cnn heroes all-star tribute salutes ten people who put others first all yearlong. the star-studded gala lives this saturday night at 8:00 eastern. take a look. >> these are every day heroes. they inspire and change lives every day. >> we want to make sure that they make better choices when it
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comes to violence. >> when you lose your child, the love doesn't go away. it has to find a place. i'm lucky i found a place to put that love. >> they are truly what it means to be a hero. >> it is people helping people the best way we know how. >> when they see me they always feel happy. >> just give them a chance. they can do anything you ask them to do. >> this sunday night cnn presents a very special live event. >> hey, i'm anderson cooper. >> and i'm kelly rypa. >> join us live for cnn heroes, an all-star tribute. >> live sunday at 8:00 p.m. on cnn. >> it's going to be a great show. you won't want to miss it, so gather up the family, grab your tissues and get ready to be inspire. it is the top of the hour, everyone. thanks for joining us.
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11:00 p.m. here on the east coast, and we're live with new developments tonight. the republican tax plan in limbo with the news today that senator marco rubio is no vote unless he gets the increase he wants in the planned child tax credit. it comes on the same day that house speaker pall ryan is doing some soul-searching and might think about leaving congress next year. the president expressing his displeasure in no uncertain tufrms. and don't forget the bruising defeat of the president's candidate in the sen lt race. all in all not such a great week for this white house. i want to bring in scott jennings and al stuart and also political strategist rick wilson. rick, i'm going to start with you. let's talk about this tax bill. senator bob corker, he is leaning no. we don't know if republicans can get senator marco rubio onboard. maybe he's trying to negotiate there. and both senators mccain and

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